September 28, 2012 / 5:28 AM / 6 years ago

Implats says pay hikes aimed at ensuring peace

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - World no. 2 platinum producer Impala Platinum (IMPJ.J) said on Friday pay hikes it had offered to avert a strike were aimed at ensuring peace against the backdrop of a wave of violence and wildcat action rocking South Africa’s mining sector.

“The overriding imperative ... should be to ensure peace, stability and order and in so doing create an environment for safe production. The wage adjustment supports this imperative,” chief executive Terence Goodlace said in a statement.

Violence and intimidation have been defining features of the illegal strikes roiling Africa’s biggest economy.

Implats key Rustenburg operation was shut for 6 weeks in January and February amid a bloody turf war between the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the dominant National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Implats’ smaller rival Lonmin (LMI.L) (LONJ.J) restarted its operations last week after a bloody 6-week standoff in which 46 people were killed.

Implats said its adjustments were focused on the lower-end of the wage scale and would kick in from Monday. Implats already said it would add almost 5 percent to its wage bill but has not given specific figures.

Among the big platinum producers, Implats is considered the most profitable with a relatively strong balance sheet but analysts have said there are limits to what it can absorb in the face of soaring costs and weak demand.

The Implats offer, accepted by workers on Thursday, came as the world’s top producer Anglo American Platinum (AMSJ.J) began disciplinary action against illegal strikers who have been off the job for about 2 weeks, costing it 20,000 ounces in lost production and counting.

Close to 75,000 workers are on strike or being prevented from going to work in South Africa’s mining sector, including at mines run by the world’s third- and fourth-biggest bullion producers, AngloGold Ashanti (ANGJ.J) and Gold Fields (GFIJ.J).

(Editing by Elaine Hardcastle); +27 11 775 3160; Reuters Messaging:

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